Purchase of buildings enables
Carroll County Library to expand
Project enters first phase
to demolish dilapidated buildings
CARROLLTON, Ky. (July 2019) – After many years of trying to acquire property and funding, the Carroll County Public Library is finally seeing a plan come to fruition. Expansion plans are entering the first phase of a project that will bring to the community some much needed upgrades and additional space for public use.
“Over the past two years we’ve acquired seven pieces of property,” said library director Hillary Arney. Some do not have buildings on them and others have buildings that will need to be demolished.
The Carroll County Public Library will soon expand with the recent purchase of seven pieces of nearby property.
The library’s board of directors purchased three properties on Fourth Street and four properties on Court Street – all in the same block as the library. The latter properties included DJ’s Tavern, Mane Studio and the former Western Auto building.
“My vision is that we won’t need to hire more staff.” They will be able to spread out more and still get their jobs done with the same amount of people, she said.
Five properties were purchased from the city and two from individuals, one in 2007 and the other in 2019. “It’s unfortunate we have to tear buildings down,” she said. Of these buildings, “most of the buildings have been vacant for a period of time and there are a lot of issues with vacant buildings.”
Arney continued, “We’ve worked so hard on acquiring the land. It’s been such a hurdle; we didn’t think it was going to happen, and when it did, it happened quickly.”
Arney has been director for the last 10 years. She was employed as staff when the library was remodeled in 2007. At that time, “the library doubled in size from more than 6,000 square feet to more than 13,000 square feet,” she said. The entire exterior was gutted and updated, and additions included a children’s activity room, community room and some workspace.
The property the library sits on has been landlocked, she said, in terms of where property was available for expansion. For a long time, “the board was focused on ‘Can we even make this happen?’ ”
There is $365,000 invested in the land, Arney said. That does not include demolition costs. “We’re close to taking bids.”
She said that “we do plan to have the demolition completed by the end of the summer and additional parking within the next year.”
Arney said the board is trying to decide where its sits financially before proceeding with the project. Grants are being considered as one source of payment for the expansion.
“We’re just in the beginning stages of a plan. The present architect is going to help with demolition.”
The board has hired a local architectural firm out of Louisville, 5253 Design Group. This firm is responsible for renovating the Trimble County Public Library on U.S. Hwy. 42. That was a project completed in the fall of 2011 at a cost of $1.6 million. The updated library contains adult and children’s collections, a Multi-Purpose-Meeting Room, Administrative, Genealogy Room, a Study Room, Children’s Programming Room and Activity Area and an Outside Reading Room in a 10,000-square-foot space.
This unique project involved salvaging timbers from a 100-year-old tobacco barn that previously occupied the site. Those timbers were designed as key visual elements in the new library.
For the Carrollton Public Library, flexible space, green space, work space and a quiet space are being considered for the overall plan. “What we need is a buffer area,” Arney said. This would put space between programs, a teen area, children’s area and adult areas.
An additional study room would be nice, she said, as well as a small meeting space and room for larger meetings and programs. On the work side of it, more storage and workspace for staff are needed and “we’d also like a professional kitchen.”
Arney said she would “love to have public input so early in the planning stages. “Any good steward of tax money needs to ask the public what we need.”
She went on to say that it is important that the public library reflects how the community wants to use it.” The library has become a place for the community to gather, but the board of directors is “not trying to replace the Community Center. We just want to create a space other community groups can use.”
She cited as an example the fact that the Carrollton Main Street Program had to bring their Easter program into the library because of bad weather this year. “That allowed our extra space to be used,” Arney said. “The space would also be perfect for the annual A Christmas Carol.” Indoor-outdoor space is a consideration for the new expansion project as well.
“We want an open, flexible program space and to give staff space to spread out.” The library currently employs 15 people.
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